Reports of voter intimidation in Texas have reached levels previously unseen by Dallas County’s nonpartisan election administrator, ProPublica reported on Monday, from name-calling to interrogating voters as they wait in line, and everything in between.
> “I’ve been here for 30 years, and this harassment that’s going on, I haven’t ever seen the likes of this,” said Toni Pippins-Poole, the county’s election director. “I’ve seen some other things, props being used and whatnot, but nothing like this type of mentality or aggressiveness or demeaning type of actions.”
Election administrators at the Lakeside Activity Center in Mesquite, Texas called police after a partisan poll watcher looking over shoulders as voters cast their ballots refused to leave. The individual was escorted from the premises by authorities, Pippins-Poole said.
> Poll greeters at Dallas’ Lochwood Library reported being “harassed” and “verbally abused” and described a person with a bullhorn driving by yelling about “baby killers,” according to a tweet by the Texas Civil Rights Project, an organization tracking voting-related issues in the state. Despite notifying law enforcement, Pippins-Poole said the person has not been identified and the reports of harassment are ongoing.
> At the Richardson Civic Center, multiple reports emerged of a person standing beyond the 100-foot-perimeter accosting voters as they arrived to vote, calling people “bipolar” and “alligators who live in swamps.” A video posted on Twitter by the Texas Civil Rights Project shows a person pacing and yelling about similar subjects.
Texas law states that electioneering may not take place within 100 feet of a polling place. Elections officials can kick people out if they disobey, and Pippins-Poole said she instructs poll workers to call police if anyone causes a disturbance outside the 100-foot perimeter.
> There is currently no evidence to suggest that the incidents reported in Dallas County have blocked voters from casting a ballot. When harassment occurs, however, it can be particularly discouraging for those inexperienced with voting, said Calvin Jillson, a professor of political science at Southern Methodist University.
> “If you are a first time voter — say a young voter or a minority voter, a newly enfranchised Hispanic citizen voting for the first time — and you have some aggressive white guy yelling at you as you walk in, it might have a negative effect. It’s meant to dissuade people from voting,” Jillson said.
> Tensions are high across Texas. The state is in the midst of an unexpectedly close Senate race between Republican incumbent Ted Cruz and Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke, which has driven record-breaking registration and early voting turnout.